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1999 NCC News Archives

NCC Praises Serbian Orthodox Church Call for Milosevic Resignation

Statement by
The Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell
General Secretary, National Council of Churches

June 16,1999

Our colleagues in the Serbian Orthodox Church in Yugoslavia, Patriarch Pavle and the Holy Synod, have taken the brave and risky step of calling for the resignation of Slobodan Milosevic "in the interest of the people and their salvation." These faith partners need our strongest support in these difficult times. Their concern is religious and humanitarian rather than political, just as was our recent U.S. religious mission to Belgrade.

We believe it is imperative that we stand with our associates in support of their concern for all of God's children. Our U.S. and worldwide religious communities already are doing this. We will call upon President Clinton to join us in this advocacy. The U.S. government holds the key to enabling the Serbian Orthodox Church to gain strength in promoting a climate where a just and lasting peace can be created. There are some tangible ways in which President Clinton could be helpful:

When our U.S. interfaith delegation went to Belgrade to meet with our Yugoslav counterparts, our intention was to honor their bold stand in denouncing the violence being experienced by all people in their region. Over the years Patriarch Pavle has clearly and unequivocally spoken out for democracy in his country and, more recently, pronounced what has been happening in Kosovo as evil. Indeed, on many occasions the Patriarch, who formerly was the Bishop of Kosovo, has gone personally to inspect sites of reported atrocities and has spoken bluntly about the need to stop the tragic violence.

These same religious leaders provided crucial assistance in gaining the release of the three American soldiers at the beginning of May. The clear call of the Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities was pivotal in the success of our religious mission to Belgrade. We know the Yugoslav religious communities help to shape the attitudes of their society. Support for the Serbian Orthodox Church call for the resignation of Slobodan Milosevic will strengthen them and, ultimately, help to build a just and lasting peace.

We are urging the religious community around the world to rally behind the bold Serbian Orthodox Church, just as happened when Archbishop Tutu was supported in his struggle against the evil effects of apartheid. These brave partners have put their very safety on the line for the right cause. We are stepping forward to offer our support to them and we pray that our U.S. government will join us.

 -end-

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